2 Corinthians 7:8-11
For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same letter has made you sorry…
I. THE MENTAL STATE HERE EXHIBITED. This sorrow was not of an ordinary kind. He afterwards defines it as sorrow "after a godly manner," or "according to God." The emotion was connected with certain local circumstances and events; but it must be regarded as forming an integral part in those arrangements of Divine mercy which are associated with the transformation and the final well-being of the human soul.
1. It arises from the truth brought home to the mind with regard to the extent and spirituality of the Divine law. When we compare the character of the Divine law with our own characters and habits, we must perceive how infinitely we fall short of our obligations, and what a vast amount of transgression we have committed. Well will it be if such a contrast humbles you in the dust, and leads you in brokenness of heart to confess, "Against Thee, Thee only have I sinned"; and to supplicate, "God be merciful to me a sinner."
2. It is also produced by the truth displayed and admitted to the mind respecting the awfulness of future punishment. What language will you find sufficient to depict the abomination which deprives man of his immortality of bliss?
3. It is also produced through the display and admission to the mind of the truth regarding the sufferings of Christ as all endured for sin, "He was wounded for our transgression," etc. Some among you may recollect the history of the first mission of the United Brethren. They taught the duties of morality, and spoke of the sanction of a future world, without producing aught like conviction or repentance; but no sooner did they begin to lift up the Cross than the stony hearts were melted, and men began to inquire, "What shall we do to be saved?"
II. THE CONNECTION EXISTING BETWEEN THIS MENTAL STATE AND THE PERMANENT CONSTITUTION OF THE CHRISTIAN CHARACTER. In the original there are two different words translated by repentance, the former signifying mere regret. This is sometimes applied to God: "The gifts and calling of God are without repentance," or regret. "The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent." It is sometimes applied to man, in order to denote those imperfect notions in religion which have no connection with the salvation of the soul, and is the term used in regard to the repentance of Judas (Matthew 27:3). The latter term, which signifies an enduring change which is always for the better, is that which we usually denote by the term evangelical repentance. "Repent, and believe the gospel." "Repent, and be converted." It is the one which is employed in the text. "Though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not regret, though I did regret; I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that you sorrowed to repentance" — your sorrow produced an enduring change for the better.
1. This verse is a graphic record of the practical nature of repentance, which is a change of mind from unbelief and alienation against God and His law, to faith and love towards both; and a change of habit and of life from the pursuit and practice of sin, to the pursuit and practice of holiness.
2. Its blessings. "Godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation." Elsewhere it is mentioned as being "repentance unto life," because connected with everlasting happiness (2 Peter 3).
III. THE MINISTERIAL EMOTIONS WITH WHICH THIS MENTAL STATE IS VIEWED. The reasons why a minister may rejoice in the repentance of his hearers are —
1. Because of its bearing upon the holiness of men.
2. Upon the glory of God. The glory of God must rightly constitute an object of ministerial desire; and the glory of God, through our instrumentality, can alone be secured by the conversion of souls.
3. Upon the happiness of ministers themselves (2 Corinthians 1:12-14; 1 Thessalonians 2:19, 20).Conclusion: Observe —
1. How much of encouragement there is for those who have been brought into this state.
2. How much of solemnity gathers round the state of those who have not been susceptible of this state at all.
Parallel VersesKJV: For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season.